This interesting snippet from a 1968 Colonial Stores grand opening ad from Atlanta comes to me from Robby Delius. It’s particularly noteworthy because it makes such use of the “Big Star” motif that would ultimately be applied to all Colonial Stores by the mid-1970s.


Also from 1968 (and from the same source) is this grand opening ad for a Safeway store in Richmond. There’s nothing really remarkable about this one, I guess. It’s just, as the ad says, really ultra-modern. And the cartoon shoppers look so darned happy

More reader submissions to come.


Colonial Store, 514 North Cherry Street, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Open 27 October 1938. Closed 24 May 1958. Since demolished. Photo from the now-defunct Twin City Sentinel.

Originally a Big Star, this 12,000 square foot store was widely regarded as Winston-Salem’s first self-service supermarket. It came shortly after the opening of the David Pender Grocery Company’s first Big Star supermarket in downtown Greensboro, thirty miles east.

What does this all mean? Only that I’m well into my research on the upcoming Winston-Salem section of this site. Comments and submissions welcome.


Spotlight on Atlanta, Georgia. The following logos are from the 17 August 1978 issue of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. The newspapers combined publication that day due to a blackout downtown. The actual newspaper was only four pages, but the food sections had apparently already been printed and were included in their entirety.

The Big Apple and Food Giant chains have been discussed on the Message Board.


A&P would remain a fairly major player in Atlanta until 1999, when it sold many of its stores to Publix.


Big Star, built on the foundation of Colonial Stores, was purchased by Grand Union in 1978. The Atlanta division lasted longer than the rest of Big Star, until 1992, when most of the stores were sold to A&P. Big Star also operated the food departments of Richway discount department stores, in much the same way that Colonial had operated Kmart Food stores in some areas.


Kroger is the only one of the 1978 chains to still have operations in Atlanta.


I really don’t know anything about Thriftown and Big Buy.


And we all know about Winn-Dixie. Enough said.


A limited edition collection of vintage supermarket drawings from the 1970s was recently discovered in North Carolina.

OK, they were all done by Yer Humble Host as a precocious child. But they do demonstrate that I’ve been really obsessed with this stuff for a very long time. I think I captured the essence of the Centennial A&P pretty well for a six-year-old, thanks. I was also proud of my Big Food Star; I think my technique had really matured by age eleven.

I guess that’s enough self-indulgence for one day. Now you all know what a big geek I was, even as a child.






Just to make an otherwise unremarkable Sunday a bit brighter, I received about 25 color photos of 1960-era A&P stores, many of them from the forgotten Southern California branch of the chain, from a gentleman whose grandfather took them while working for the company…


They’re really amazing shots, interiors and exteriors in quite stunning color. I’ll be adding bigger versions when I do my revamp of the A&P and Colonial sections, which are my next two projects after the Charlotte section is done…

And yes, I really do plan to have that Charlotte section done soon. I got a little sidetracked by a personal matter recently, but it’s on the way. I promise…

Thanks to everyone who confirmed my suspicion that the Camden SC store pictured here was in fact a former Colonial…

I’m off to San Francisco for a couple of days. No, now that you ask, I HAVEN’T missed my former home since departing in June. But I will be glad for a chance to shoot pictures of the remaining Cala and Bell stores, because I’m pretty danged sure they won’t be there next time I visit. Or not under those names, at least…


If it weren’t in Columbia, South Carolina, I’d almost think it had been a Safeway in an earlier life. I have no idea what this used to be, and I’m not even sure it was a supermarket. It’s located on Beltline Boulevard near Devine Street. Ideas?


And while I’m at it, how about this one from Camden, South Carolina. It’s on US 1 just east of downtown. It may have been an independent from day one. Or not. I sure don’t recognize the prototype…

2 August 2005 | Link this


In case there was any doubt, I am most definitely living in the south again.

There are no more Safeways in my world, and nothing resembling an Albertsons or a Ralphs. I’m finding groceries to be considerably cheaper and the whole experience of shopping to be much more pleasant than in California. Stores are big, and properly stocked and staffed. You can actually find bread even on Sunday nights.

The downside is that there are very few older stores still open and available for me to check out. There are plenty of abandoned A&P and Kroger and Colonial stores around if you know where to look and what to look for, but almost none of them are still selling groceries. It’s too bad, really…

But I promise to find any interesting ones and let you know where they are soon.

Even my old hometown is courting supermarkets in the central city now:

Jones said they have had some interest from a few grocers, but he declined to say who they were. In general, he said, chains like The Fresh Market, Whole Foods Market and Harris Teeter are interested in spaces for smaller stores.

In August 2003, Harris Teeter opened a 17,000-square-foot store in uptown Charlotte. The store is part of a condominium complex.

It will be interesting to see what happens here. Downtown Greensboro is, in a sense, where this website was born. It was there, at age nine or so, that I became obsessed with the ancient A&P store which sat near what used to be my great grandmother’s house. It was in Greensboro that my mom showed me the few entrance tiles which were all that remained from the Big Star store which had been Greensboro’s first real supermarket back when she was a little girl.

It’s where the obsession began, after all, so it would be nice to see some supermarket chain return to the area after thirty years or so, even if it’s in some trendy, new wave building that looks more like an Urban Outfitters than a grocery store…